Boston Symphony Season Opener: Preview with Lolcats!

Boston Symphony Orchestra
Saturday, October 2, 2010, 6:00 pm
Music of Richard Wagner, featuring Bryn Terfel, baritone
Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston

Tomorrow night, McDoc and I will get gussied up for a fancy shindig: the BSO season opener! (It’s black-tie, dahling!)

Maestro James Levine, just off the injured list with back trouble, will lead an all-Wagner program: excerpts from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Die Walküre, and Der Fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman). I’m not the world’s biggest Wagner fan (don’t tell these folks!) though I do love me some Tristan und Isolde. But I am looking forward to hearing Bryn Terfel sing, and I think everyone should hear the Ride of the Valkyries performed live at least once. Do you think I’ll get in trouble if I start singing “Kill da Wabbit“? along with it?

PhotobucketSpeaking of Wagner, earlier this year I attended a concert of his music put on by the Boston Wagner Society, and while writing about it, I got the hare-brained idea to translate part of the love duet from Lohengrin into Lolspeak. The obvious next step was to caption a kitty picture to go with it.

Behold: Lolcats Opera!! (And if you think that’s irreverent, check out the Lolcat Bible!)

I think it’s only fitting to preview tomorrow night’s BSO program in similar fashion. Here are a few highlights:

“Was duftet doch der Flieder” (Hans Sachs’ Monologue), from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg:

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“Die Frist ist um” (The Dutchman’s Monologue), from Der Fliegende Holländer:

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And of course, Ride of the Valkyries, from Die Walküre:

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And so, if you get your opera on in Boston tomorrow night, tell ’em Miss Music Nerd sent you!

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Music Nerd of the Day: Merton, the Piano Improv Guy

On my morning reading rounds today, I was shocked, shocked to discover that the recent internet phenom Chatroulette (don’t worry, that link goes to the Wikipedia entry, not the site itself) was on the wane. (Nerd note: the url for that article contains a much better title than what you’ll see at the top of the page itself: “Requiem for Chatroulette” is poetry, while “R.I.P. Chatroulette, 2009-2010” is mere prose!) I mean, what could possibly go wrong with a site where you click the “next” button to be visually connected with a random stranger via webcam? Uh, yeah, exactly what you imagine could go wrong, that’s what. Jon Stewart explains it better than I can, if you’re still curious. 😛

And now, these messages!

Three more voting days left for my “Your OWN Show” audition video! Voting is open until July 3 at 11:59 pm Pacific Time, and you can vote as often as you wish! 😀 (Note: it takes time for the vote count to update, so don’t worry if the total doesn’t change immediately when you click the button. Thanks for your support!)

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Tonight in Jamaica Plain, Boston: a classical music double feature, presented by JP Concerts! At 7:30 pm, the Arcturus Chamber Ensemble performs music by Mozart, Beethoven, Ginastera, and Prokofiev. Then at 9:30, classical guitarist John Muratore and accordionist/composer Roberto Cassan play Piazzolla, Debussy, Galliano, Leo Brouwer, Cassan and others. The first show is free (though donations are gratefully accepted), and the second is $10. Click here for more info.

Anyhoo, why am I dragging you into this slightly unsavory corner of the web? Well, believe it or not, there’s a nugget of music nerd gold to be found here, in the form of Merton, the Piano Improv Guy. Sitting at his charmingly out-of-tune spinet piano, wearing his trademark hoodie and glasses, he spontaneously serenades his chat partners in a way that brings a smile to everyone’s face. Behold!

musicnerdometerI am most impressed by his quick wit and his on-the-fly songwriting skills. And of course, the glasses and hoodie put him firmly on the high end of the music nerdometer. Tip o’ the nerd glasses to you, Merton!

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BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!

vuvuzelaOkay, music nerds, so I’m a little late to this party. I hesitated to jump on the bandwagon, because I’m a fragile flower with delicate ears, but I figure I should chronicle this phenomenon for the sake of posterity… or something like that! 😉

But first, these messages!

Plenty of time left to view and vote for my “Your OWN Show” audition video! Voting is open until July 3 at 11:59 pm Pacific Time, and you can vote as often as you wish! 😀 (Note: it takes time for the vote count to update, so don’t worry if the total doesn’t change immediately when you click the button. Thanks for your support!)

YOSvideoSStxt

And if you’re in the Boston area, come to Jamaica Plain tomorrow night for an incredible classical music double feature, presented by JP Concerts! At 7:30 pm, the Arcturus Chamber Ensemble performs music by Mozart, Beethoven, Ginastera, and Prokofiev. Then at 9:30, classical guitarist John Muratore and accordionist/composer Roberto Cassan play Piazzolla, Debussy, Galliano, Leo Brouwer, Cassan and others. The first show is free (though donations are gratefully accepted), and the second is $10. Click here for more info.

Now, let’s get down to business!

The vuvuzela has inspired both outrage and fascination during this year’s World Cup. The outrage isn’t a one-way sentiment, either — see this hard news item: South African Vuvuzela Philharmonic Angered By Soccer Games Breaking Out During Concerts (nicely done on the choice of composers cited, BTW!)

I was glad to learn that the music nerds of the world stepped up to the plate (wait — that’s the wrong sport!) and found the serious side of all this. There’s the trumpet player Alison Balsom, who applied her stellar chops to the instrument in the video on this page (sorry I can’t embed it here). Then there’s this:

Brahms and Ravel played on the Vuvuzela

McDoc, who was a trombone player once upon a time, feels these players are overusing the high register of the instrument. I’m impressed by what they can do, but I would also like to hear some more bass vuvuzela.

Oh, wait — all I have to do is click here: Vuvuzela FM (CAUTION: autoplay site! Will buzz when you click!). Or, I can play it myself!

And if all of that isn’t enough for you, you can follow the vuvuzela on Twitter!

On the other hand, you may just want to invest in this equipment. 😉

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Notes From The Department of Music Nerdometry!

But first, a word from our sponsor: please click here to view my “Your OWN Show” audition video, and please vote for me and spread the word! Remember, you can vote early and often! 😀

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In a couple of recent posts, I’ve referenced my nerdometer, and I’ve used this gif that I found on the intertubes:

nerdometer

It’s pretty good for general nerdiness, but I really need to create a true Music Nerdometer. Tonight McDoc and I started talking about what would appear at different points on the scale of music nerdiness.

First, it’s important to define one’s terms. I mean, for the most part, nerdiness is like obscenity: you know it when you see it. But sometimes when I try to think of specific examples, I find I need some guidelines. McDoc and I came up with a working definition: it involves wearing one’s heart and mind on one’s sleeve, and getting super-excited about things that others might find arcane. There’s definitely an elevated level of seriousness compared to the general population, though it can’t be said that nerds don’t have a sense of humor; it’s just that the things they find funny are, well, nerdy.

McDoc started poking around online while I finished up a little music copying project, and he found a treasure trove of material. It’ll take some time to sort through and compile it all, but here are a few quick thoughts:

  • Nerdometry is often sorely lacking in gender diversity. I’m doing what I can to change that, but I must also thankful for the existence of Lisa Loeb.
  • This website will be a rich source of material: Wolf Gnards: Nerding Pop Culture.
  • You can find nerds in any genre of music, of course, not just classical. For example: in the jazz world, the nerd scale might have Miles Davis at 0 (not nerdy at all), and Anthony Braxton at the top of the scale.

But I’m open to further suggestions, so what do you think, music nerds? People, instruments, concepts, whatever strikes you as emblematic — post it in a comment! 🙂

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One Twisted Instrument!

Music nerd Andy filed a request recently for a Music Nerd Merit Badge having to do with brass instruments. He didn’t specify which one, and in keeping with my characteristic goofiness, I chose the Wagner Tuba. I went looking for pictures of the instrument to use as a model, and I found a real purty one on the website of a German instrument maker:

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It was the largest picture I could find, which helped me see the details clearly. I set about copying it, and got rather fascinated by the twists and turns of its tubing:

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I used a variety of pretty colors for the different sections to help me keep them sorted out, and then I planned to turn them into gold (er, brass, I mean!) when I was all done.

I decided I’d better look at some pictures of players actually holding the instrument, to see how that worked. I found plenty of examples. Here’s a single player:

wtubaplayer

And here’s a quartet of them:

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Great, right? Except for one thing… It may seem like a minor detail, but the mouthpiece is on the opposite side compared to the model I was working from! Ack!

I looked at as many pictures of people playing the instrument as I could find, and they all had the same arrangement, which differed in a small but very important way from my developing masterpiece. (Musicians can be pretty fussy about these things!)

So if there’s anyone out there who plays this consarned thing, or knows anything about it — can you hip me, humble pianist/non-brass aficionado that I am? What gives? Is there no standardization to the thing? Are there no rules? What’s next, dogs and cats living together?!

But most importantly… do I have to scrap my backwards drawing and start all over! 😥

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Music Nerd Merch: the Gregorian Chant Store!

Happy Father’s Day, music nerds!

almaredemptorismugMcDoc just found something to make the music nerdometer redline!

He’s heavily into Gregorian Chant, you see — more so than I am (who’s really the music nerd here, one wonders?), and he found, through the magic of Facebook, this online store featuring Gregorian Chant Merchandise and Apparel. What music nerd’s life could be complete without an Alma Redemptoris Mater coffee mug or an Ubi Caritas T-Shirt? (And if you’re really hardcore [and a grownup], check this out! :P)

But as if that weren’t awesome enough, shop proprietor Brien K. Meehan has embarked on a project to transcribe popular tunes into Gregorian chant notation, while translating the lyrics into Latin. He takes requests! My mind is, once again, reeling with the endless possibilities!

His first entry will take you down memory lane if you grew up in the previous century: Navis Amoris. The Latin doesn’t ring a bell? Here’s a hint:

Sorry to do that do you — I know it might be a bit of an earworm! 😉

Let’s have something more serious as well:

Alma Redemptoris Mater – chant sung by the Trappist Monks of Gethsemani

Ubi Caritas et Amor, setting by Maurice Durufle, sung by the Suspicious Cheese Lords

Hold the phone — the Suspicious Cheese Lords?! This is something that warrants further investigation, not to mention a tip of the nerd glasses!

And here I thought early music was boring! 😀

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Music Nerd Merit Badges: The Ringing, Ringing, Ringing…

I got a request from music nerd Michèle for a handbell merit badge, and as you know, I live but to serve: 😉

bells

Here’s a more personalized one for this particular ringer, though!

bellsmichele

Just remember, music nerds, I can’t charge professional graphic design rates, since I’m not, er, a professional graphic designer… so make me an offer! 😉

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